WASHINGTON — The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate is making Army-wide changes to all programs to better align with the readiness and resiliency initiatives set by Army senior leaders.
During a March 23 Association of the U.S. Army “Hot Topic” forum about installation management, Stephanie L. Hoehne, the director for FMWR, Installation Management Command, outlined some of the changes.
“If the program does not directly support readiness or resiliency, (the Chief of Staff of the Army) is not making that program a priority; therefore it should not be one of our priorities,” Hoehne said.
Soldiers can argue that all services tie into a Soldier’s readiness, but Hoehne said that the problem is there are no available metrics to prove potential impact.
In the end, “we have to stop assuming what we know about our customer bases and do the analysis and research to find out what their needs are,” she said.
“The Army is like a team,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Melissa A. Judkins of IMCOM as she paraphrased a previous statement about readiness from sergeant major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey.
“We get on the bus and play away games. If you can’t get on the bus, then you probably don’t need to be on the team.”
In the end, the Army should gear all installations and their services to help better prepare Soldiers, with the goal of getting them on that bus, Judkins said.
Furthermore, the Chief of Staff of the Army would like to see changes at installation fitness centers to better help prepare units for deployment, Hoehne said. Studies have shown that the physical demands of being a Solider are the cause of a lot of injuries. She added that preparing Soldiers for a deployment starts at their home installation.
To help, FMWR would like to review the requirements needed at all fitness centers, such as exercise equipment and facilities, and refocus it in a way that emphasizes readiness.
“A gym should be looked at as a platform for building readiness, just like we do individually. The gym should be used all day, like a range,” Judkins said.
Unfortunately, readiness comes at a cost, and the lack of funding has had a significant impact on all installations, Hoehne said. Currently, IMCOM is operating at 95 percent of its required budget.
“When you have a $3 billion-dollar budget of critical requirements, and you lose 5 percent, that’s a $200 million shot. That is a lot of change to be spread around 78 installations,” she said.
Ultimately, it was the maintenance of housing and barracks at installations that has assumed the risk to help pay for other pressing priorities. “We can’t afford to do that anymore,” Hoehne said.
To make improvements, FMWR performed an Army-wide reorganization, moving away from regional grouping and focusing more on the function of each installation. The primary purpose of the realignment was to eliminate wasteful spending by identifying a baseline of services for all facilities.
Readiness in the military spouse community
As both a key spouse and advocate for military Families, Holly Dailey, wife to the sergeant major of the Army, said she helps up-channel the needs of military Families to Army senior leaders.
“Military spouses bring wonderful skills to the table,” Dailey said. “They are educated and loyal. They have diversity and resiliency, and we are going to tap into that, and we love having them as part of the team.”
One need that Dailey identified stems from the changes in the Army Family dynamic. Many spouses now marry later in life and already have their career and education in place, she said. This is a strong contrast from when she got married. During that time, spouses grew to the level of their Soldier’s career and were groomed by the Army culture, she said.
To help all Families that are coming into a Soldier’s career later on in life, Dailey would like to see some form of formal training for all military spouses. This training could include a source of consolidated information that provides all the resources spouses would need to be successful in providing support to their Soldier and embedding with the Army culture.
In addition to spousal support, one growing concern Dailey faces is the issue of spousal employment.
“Yes they have a unique lifestyle, but they are looking for more of a mobilized or transferable job,” she said.
Currently, there are many resources available in support of employment for military spouses. Unfortunately, due to the overabundance of resources, a lot of spouses have communicated that they are overwhelmed and don’t know who to trust, she said.
In turn, this leads to discouragement, which prevents them from finding a job. Dailey would like to fix that problem and find new ways of educating spouses about employment opportunities.